2019 MLK Commemoration to Highlight ‘Why Words Matter: From Dissent to Dialogue’


‘Me too.’ founder to deliver keynote address

Tarana Burke, an African-American civil rights activist and “me too.” movement founder, will deliver the keynote address for Duke University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration on Sunday, Jan. 20.

Burke, the senior director at Girls for Gender Equity, coined the phrase “me too.” in 2006 to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault in society. It grew into a broader movement following the 2017 use of #MeToo as a hashtag after the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations.

The public is invited to the annual program, which will link King’s civil rights legacy to the continuing struggle for equity and justice in all facets of our society. The commemoration event starts at 3 p.m. in Duke University Chapel, and free parking is available in the Bryan Center Parking Garage (see map at http://myatlascms.com/map/?id=21&mrkIid=39570).

TIME Magazine named Burke, among a group of other prominent activists dubbed “the silence breakers,” as the Time Person of the Year for 2017.

Those unable to attend can watch a live stream of the event on Duke’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/APgmRPXtmx0. Viewers can post comments on Twitter using the hashtag #DukeMLK. An archive of the recording will also be posted online.

“We rarely highlight Dr. King’s activism aimed at pushing back on systems of power and privilege,” said Benjamin Reese Jr., vice president and chief diversity officer for the Duke Office for Institutional Equity. “Ms. Burke’s social justice work and her activism in highlighting sexual assault is a credit to Dr. King’s legacy.”

Other highlights of the Duke Chapel program include performances by Duke’s Amandla Chorus, Durham’s Collage Dance Company and the John Brown Jazz Combo. There will also be greetings from Duke President Vincent Price, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel, Duke University Hospital President Dr. Thomas Owens and Duke Black Student Alliance Vice President Ashleigh Smith.

Additional campus events include a talk by writer and civil rights activist Shaun King at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, in Reynolds Theater. King is noted for his use of social media to promote social causes, including the Black Lives Matter movement, and is a columnist for The Intercept. Previously, he was a contributing writer for Daily Kos and a political commentator for The Young Turks. He co-founded the Real Justice PAC in February 2018, which supports progressive candidates running for district attorney offices.

All tickets to Shaun King’s talk have now been claimed.